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Celtic and Vedic Gods and Goddesses: Their deep rooted affinities

Hinduism, is considered by some to be the oldest religion in the world, and there are significant parallels in linguistics, spiritual traditions, beliefs, mythology and folklore, symbols, astrology, music and poetry, laws and customs.

Perhaps, the most reliable point of entry for validating a common origin is language. The Celtic root dru which means "immersion" also appears in Sanskrit. So a Druid was one ‘immersed in knowledge.’” (Berresford-Ellis, 2000, p. 1)

The vocabulary is amazingly similar. The following are just a few examples:

Old Irish - arya (freeman),Sanskrit - aire (noble)
Old Irish - naib (good), Sanskrit - noeib (holy)
Old Irish - badhira (deaf), Sanskrit - bodhar (deaf)
Old Irish - names (respect), Sanskrit - nemed (respect)
Old Irish - righ (king), Sanskrit - raja (king)

Both spiritual paths believe that the dead continue to live in alternative realms of the Universe until reincarnation into a human or animal body.

Ancient Druids and Vedic Hindus honored women, who were allowed to own property and become priestesses (Hinduism Today, 1994).

There are also startling similarities in some of the actual holidays themselves. The Winter Solstice marks the new solar year for the Druids and for Hindus (Hinduism Today, 1994).

The Hindu festival of Diwali celebrates the awareness of our inner light as the Druid’s Winter Solstice or Alban Arthan welcomes the rebirth of the Sun-God as the Celtic Son of Light, the Mabon.

During Pitru Paksha Shradh in September/ October, Hindus honor the ancestors. Druids celebrate Samhain, the predecessor to Halloween, on October 31st. Samhain is one of the oldest,
most sacred Druid ceremonies on record and is a time to commune with the dead and begin a transition to the inner world, releasing unwanted aspects of your life and the sorrows in your heart.

It is interesting to note that the Celtic term for the Gods is 'Deuos' and the Vedic term is 'Devas',
both terms meaning "Shining Ones".



The Danu Goddesses

Among the ancient Celts, Danu was regarded as the "Mother Goddess." The Irish Gods and Goddesses were the Tuatha De Danaan ("Children of Danu"). Danu was the "divine waters" falling from heaven and nurturing Bíle, the sacred oak from whose acorns their children sprang. Moreover, the waters of Danu went on to create the great Celtic sacred river--Danuvius, today called the Danube.

Many European rivers bear the name of Danu--the Rhône (ro-Dhanu, "Great Danu") and several rivers called Don. Rivers were sacred in the Celtic world, and places where votive offerings were deposited and burials often conducted. The Thames, which flows through London, still bears its Celtic name, from Tamesis, the dark river, which is the same name as Tamesa, a tributary of the Ganges.

Not only is the story of Danu and the Danube a parallel to that of Ganga and the Ganges but a Hindu Danu appears in the Vedic story "The Churning of the Oceans," a story with parallels in Irish and Welsh mytholgy. Danu in Sanskrit also means "divine waters" and "moisture."
Other deities are also comparable.

In Celtic mythology Danu is one of the most ancient known of all Celtic Goddesses, from whom the hierarchy of Gods received it's name of Tuatha De Danann, "Folk of the Goddess Danu".
Whereas in Vedic mythology the Goddess Danu gives birth to the seven Danvanas, the dark ones of the ocean.

Danu in the Vedic myth is bondage and restraint and her son Vrtra is the constrictor. Whereas the Goddess Aditi is the Boundless and the Infinite, and Indra by using his tapas, which is represented by his lightening bolt, becomes the "winner of the light". What is to be found here in an esoteric sense is the cycle of life-giving sacrifice (slaying of Vrtra) and the birth of diversification (realeasing of the waters). It is the macrocosmic struggle between light and dark, order and chaos. While on the microcosmic level it is knowledge over ignorance.

In the Celtic myth the Goddess Domnu is regarded as being of "Chaos and Old Night", the abyss, from whence came the Fomors the deities of the dark waters who were conquered by Lug, the Celtic Sun God, and the Tuatha De Danann. Again it is the light conquering the darkness.


Domnu
is the Celtic Goddess of the Fomorii. She was to them what the Goddess Danu was to the Tuatha de Danaan, who followed the Fomorii in controlling the land that would become Ireland. The Fomorii were often called “children of Domnu,” and were said to have come from the depths of the sea. Domnu’s name means “the deep.”

The two myths are fundamentally the same, both tell of the primordial waters, that undifferentiated state of being before the time of creation, and light emerging in triumph over darkness to allow life to flow. This theme seems to be repeated in a rather abstract creation hymn in the Rig Veda, "Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscrimated chaos. All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of Warmth was born that unit" (X.129).



Lug , Taranis, & Indra

We may draw also some comparissons between them. This is partially made possible by Indra, in addition to his typical associations of rain, thunder and lightning, also having strong solar associations in the Rig Veda.
Throughout the Rig Veda there are many hymns to Indra (more than any other God or Goddess) and many of these contain references that associate Indra with the Sun and light.

Another parallel between Lug and Indra is that they were both not the original leaders of their respective groups. Lug was given the position of leader of the Tuatha De Danann for thirteen days by Nuada of the Silver Hand.

Indra only became the chief of the Vedic Gods and the people's favourite after he had defeated Vritra. Indra has also been connected with the myth of Tain Bo Cuailgne. Here Indra's symbolic animal representation, the bull, is compared with the Celtic bull of Quelgny. Again what is found is a solar association in both Celtic and Vedic myth.



God Cernunnos & Pashupati


The Celtic God Cernunnos, or Horned One, is the God of fertility, produce, and the underworld. He has long hair and a beard, and sits cross-legged in a meditative state when not hunting. He wears torcs, or ornate neck-rings. He is associated with a serpent, which has the horns of a ram.

Pashupati is the Horned God of the Indus Valley and "Lord of cattle", is an epithet of the Hindu god Shiva, the long-haired Hindu God who spent time immersed in the forest in the form of a deer. He often assumes a meditative pose, is garlanded with snakes and is associated with fertility a la the Siva Lingam. He uses a Bisana, the long horn. As part of the Trimurti, he is the Destroyer in order for re-creation to occur and wears the ashes of the dead. Both are known as Lord of the Animals.

In addition to chanting, both Hindus and Druids conduct rites suffused by the elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Fire is a central focus point of the ceremonies, which include food, flowers and incense. While the Druids use herbs, mead, fruit and cakes, the Hindus use ghee, spices, fruit, rice and sweets as symbolic gifts to God (Hinduism Today, 1994). After giving these gifts to the deities, the rites end with the participants consuming the offerings.

Related Sources:

http://druidry.org
http://www.hinduismtoday.com

http://indianpaganism.4dw.com
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